Council budget delivers despite pandemic

Willoughby City

Covid Mask Chastwood Market.jpg

Despite the $14 million impact of COVID-19 on revenue, Willoughby City Council has presented a well-balanced budget, continuing its commitment to serve the community.

Council unanimously adopted the Operational Plan and Budget 2021-22 at last night’s Council Meeting (Monday 12 April).

Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney said she is proud of the outcome, given the difficult year we have had.

“This wasn’t an easy task. The ongoing impact of the pandemic meant that the starting point for this year’s budget was $6.2 million in deficit.”

In 2021-22, Council expects a significant reduction in revenue from a range of sources including paid parking, lease rentals, and historically low interest on investments.

“To reduce the deficit we have found $5.2 million savings in Council employee costs, operational expenses and other areas such as consultants and materials,” Mayor Giles-Gidney said.

“Of the remaining, $1 million will be raised by way of fee increases, where they are under market value.”

There will be a small increase of $15 per household annually for domestic waste management, ten percent for on-street parking fees in some areas, and ten percent increase in child care fees – bringing them in line with current market rates.

“Applying these cost savings will result in a balanced budget while continuing to delivery services expected by our community,” the Mayor concluded.

See the Operational Plan and Budget 2021-22

Background

Despite the $14m impact of COVID-19 on our revenue, Council will present a balanced budget and continue to deliver services, projects and capital works for the community.

This wasn’t an easy task. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 meant that the starting point for the 2021/22 budget was $6.2 million in deficit.

For 2021/22, we expect a reduction in revenue from:

  • paid parking due to people working from home and high competition from parking operators in Chatswood CBD
  • lease rentals with increased vacancies and potential market value declines, and
  • historically low interest on our investments.

To reduce the $6.2 million deficit position we found savings in these areas:

  • $2.5 million in employee cost savings (for example vacancy savings)
  • $1.7 million by introducing controllable costs savings (for example consultants and materials)

The remaining $2 million will be resolved in a number of ways including revenue and cost opportunities and fees which have not increased for a significant period of time and where they are under market value. The proposed fee increases are:

  • 3% increase in domestic waste management charges – this increase is in line with previous increases in 2015 and 2018. Fees will increase by $15 per household from $530 to $545
  • 10% increase in parking fees for on-street parking, except at undercover parking at The Concourse, Albert Ave and Chandos St car parks, where there is intense competition from other parking venues.
  • 10% increase in child care fees on 1 July 2021 and 1 January 2022, to bring fees in line with current market rates.
  • Aligning planning fees to the middle of the market range.

Applying these cost saving and revenue opportunities will result in a balanced budget with a $0.5 million surplus, while minimising the impact on our community.

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